Nothing is certain but Death and Taxes

This origin of this idiom is attributed, variously, to Benjamin Franklin and Daniel Defoe.

The inevitability of increased taxation in jurisdictions such as Bermuda is a matter of much debate, locally and internationally, but there can be no debate about the inevitability of death (whether in Bermuda or elsewhere).

With this in mind, it is refreshing to read news reports of the development and construction of Bermuda’s first local crematorium (which has finally been granted planning permission for its current proposed location, after a number of previously unsuccessful planning applications).

This is particularly welcome since, at present, human bodies need to be transported from Bermuda to Canada or the USA, whether for cremation or for overseas burial, and the only local option currently (both practically and legally) is burial.

For those with a particularly morbid legal disposition, the regulation of burials and cremations in Bermuda is principally governed by the Public Health Act 1949 and the Registration (Births and Deaths) Act 1949.

In the UK, cremation is now the preferred method for disposition of human corpses (with over 2/3rds of bodies cremated rather than buried). The legal history of cremation in the UK is fascinating, since it was first unequivocally legalized in 1885, not by statute, but by common law (when Dr. Price was acquitted by a Cardiff Court of an alleged, but non-existent, offence of cremation), with legislation to follow in 1902, in the form of the Act ‘for the regulation of the burning of Human Remains, and to enable Burial Authorities to establish Crematoria” (otherwise known as the Cremation Act 1902, with various regulations made thereunder).

More recently, in 2010, the English Court of Appeal had to consider the legality of cremation on open air funeral pyres, in accordance with Hindu religious beliefs. The Court of Appeal concluded that open air funeral pyres were not, in and of themselves, objectionable, provided that they complied with all relevant environmental and planning laws: see Ghai, R (on the application of) v Newcastle City Council & Ors [2010] EWCA Civ 59 (10 February 2010)

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